Harnessing men’s utility can be witnessed from the erection of Stonehenge to the Roman Empire to the moon landings. Cures for diseases and vaccines to prevent them happened from the intensely intelligent actions of the human male. Exploring new territories and engineering the transport to send people to new places has changed the world, almost all of it through risk and hardship borne by men. Men have driven civilization forward since we first walked away from the African savannah. Men’s blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices are the fuel rods that have always driven the big machine of our society.
Conditioning men, training them to do that, was necessary.
If the world wanted to continue its forward march it needed to entice little boys with fictions of glory that would forge their identities as the architects and the engineers of the world around them. It was an easy sell given the perhaps innate tendency in males to risk and to accomplish more than the man next to him.
We have thus, from generation to generation, raised our men on a steady diet of stories about saviors, knights and world-building heroes. We train them see themselves in accordance with those fables, sometimes brutally. We teach them that their worth is actually their worth to the wants and needs of others. We instruct them to see themselves as worthless for doing or being anything other than what we expect them to be.
This kind of thinking probably had its appropriate place in a world that was driven by constant and immediate survival needs. There is no doubt that without humankind benefitting from male sacrifice, you would not be sitting there reading this over an internet connection in a safe and comfortable environment, perhaps half a world away.
So do we need to continue this kind of dependence on men to sacrifice unthinkingly for the needs of others? Seven billion examples of a species now dominating the planet and traveling the solar system suggest not.
Yet we continue on in the same mode, blinded by habituation and the thoughtlessness that comes with it.
The problem that we glean from this is clear. The labels of hero, savior and other forms of “real” manhood are now just euphemisms for the disposable servants we have become as an entire class of human beings. We proudly retell tales of sacrifice to our sons, even as the story of their own lives emerges – singing paeans to the yoke.
Such are the stories all little boys are raised on:
The stories seem harmless and even cute in isolation from their real-world implications. As fantasies we delight in them. But it pays to remember our identities consist, as Shakespeare said, of such stuff as dreams are made. The stories we absorb are the stories we enact, and in this case we enact them to the neglect of ourselves and our larger human potential.
The psychotherapeutic world has long understood the equation ‘narrative becomes identity’ – and the field is populated with therapies whose sole aim is to construct new narratives for our lives. Beginning with Freud’s ‘talking cure’ and later archetypal psychology, cognitive psychology (scripts), narrative psychology, cognitive narratology (etc.), narrative therapy leads the way to healing and self-respect.
Men, in particular, are story creatures. Our psyches literally rely on them for existence as much as our bodies rely on food. We create stories about “who” we are; about the world we live in and our place in it; and about how we are meant to relate to others – men, women and children. Without them we lack orientation and are left with an existential vertigo.
Whatever you want to call them–scripts, myths, narrations, schema or stories–we can’t live without them. However, like a bad dose of salmonella some narratives will give you a case of mental dysentery leading even unto death by overwork or suicide – such is their power to direct your behavior. Psychologists, good ones anyway, refer to these as pathologizing narratives and try to weed them out of your mental garden.
But who is to decide what a pathological narrative is? Surely it is not the feminist psychologists who now dominate nearly every part of the therapeutic landscape with pathological narratives.
The problem with all mainstream therapy, which is now nearly synonymous with feminist therapy, is that it doesn’t recognize gynocentrism as a problem or perhaps doesn’t see it at all. So they have no model for guiding men out of pathological (gynocentric) narratives and into new ones that might release them from the old script. In fact what they usually do, despite superfical overtures about therapy that focuses on the needs of the client, is actively encourage men to stay lodged in the depth of the gynocentric mythos.
How many men feel (and actually are) waylaid, ambushed and taken hostage by female-centric ideas when they enter couples counseling? How often do you hear that men are resistant to therapy because they don’t want to express feelings, only to see the same purveyors of that idea rush in to shame men the moment they open up?
How many men would benefit from understanding that they cannot begin to identify who and what they are without first ending the unhealthy reliance on women, and others with a conflict of interest, as sources of approval in their lives?
There is a reason that men don’t trust therapists. It is because there are so many therapists who don’t trust men. Those practitioners are more likely to use men than to help them.
We don’t just make narratives up – in many ways they make us up. So it’s important to not let the culture write the script for us, the script that inevitably leads to the belief that we are rapists and emotional failures, that women are damsels, that we are knights in the Order of Chivalry, and that we must suffer our lives for the principles of gynocentrism. Like the tattered novel you just can’t seem to finish reading, throw it in the trash and hunt for a new book, a better book, one that will bring value to your life.
If you are searching for a therapist make sure and ask one question: “Have you heard of gynocentrism?” If they haven’t walk away and don’t hire them. In fact be prepared to do so much walking away that your steps will number enough to walk around the entire planet three times. Doing therapy with men without a fundamental understanding of gynocentism is like trying to teach algebra without a fundamental understanding of mathematics.
The task of the gynocentrism-savvy therapist is to facilitate the male client’s rewriting of his own story. The (completely imaginary) book will have a beginning, a middle and an end with a compelling plot throughout. It doesn’t matter what the new fiction is, as long as it works for the client. It can be anything the therapist helps the client envision for himself during the course of therapy. They leave the therapy sessions with a new novel in which they are the protagonist, leading a gynocentrism-free life of self-determination.
The above underscores the importance of having a healthy narrative to live by. A good therapist can help you achieve that – if you need assistance at all. Some of us, many actually, can write our novels without help. Just make sure that the narrative you adopt is one that allows you to be a fully functioning human being. If your current story doesn’t achieve that, burn it and dream up something new.
Dream big, but most importantly, dream what you choose.
This post orginally appeared on An Ear for Men.